Yes, yes I can write a novel! Pt. 13
The Just War, Ch. 13
Note: This is the thirteenth chapter in a novel that I'm writing as part of the NaNoWriMo challenge to write a 50,000 word novel between November 1-30. The rules are: Just write it! Don't edit, don't obsess, don't chart out notes. Don't worry about spelling, syntax, grammar or continuity. You can go back and fix those things later, but the most important thing to writing the novel is to get it written! It works out to 1,667 words per day. If you do more, great! If you do less, don't worry! Just keep plugging! And hopefully my first draft, with all spelling errors and continuity holes intact, will inspire you that you can do it too!
The invective streaming from the phone was enough to take the skin off your ears, at least that was what Barry thought as he descended the stairs. He’d been sitting up in his room, feeling hopeless, even despairing of ever seeing his sister again.
Stacey had come over, he wasn’t sure why. Back at the library, he had wanted her to come with them when the cops drove his mom back to the house. Dad was taking him, and he wanted Stacey to come along. His dad had been okay with it, but when she phoned her own home, her dad said no. Just flat out like that.
He’d been vaguely aware when his dad had come in to his room and said something. He’d heard his dad talking, even looked right at him but couldn’t remember a word the older man had said. He just wanted to find a rock to crawl under.
He’d laid on his bed for a while, listening to the storm outside. He hadn’t turned on the light. His computer was up because it was always up, he never shut it off. His dad used to tell him that he was wasting electricity, that he was going to burn the screen, but Barry just tuned him out on that one. Since he was almost always on the computer anyway why bother to take it down? Leave it up.
The darkness was like a cocoon, he wanted to wrap himself in it and maybe shrivel up and disappear. If only he could. Where was Jen? What had happened to her? What was happening to her? Who would do something like this? Why?
The light of the computer screen was unearthly against the wall. He just laid with his face toward the wall, not turning around no matter what he heard. He knew that Tommy had arrived but he really couldn’t recall when.
After a while he became aware that Stacey was in the room. He didn’t know how he knew, he just did. He turned over and saw her sitting in the chair by his desk, just looking at him. The computer was behind her, so the silhouette effect made the whole thing just that much more unreal.
“Hi,” she said quietly, her glasses sitting on the bridge of her nose. She was still wearing her boots, the cute rain boots that doubled as snow boots. She hadn’t taken off her winter coat, which surprised Barry a little.
“You’re still wearing your coat,” he’d said. His voice was rather weak and far away.
“Yeah,” Stacey answered softly. “Your mom seemed kind of distracted.”
“Yeah,” Barry said. “That’s an understatement.”
For a long time she just sat there, looking at her boyfriend. He just lay in bed, sometimes looking at Stacey and sometimes just stared off into space. Finally she worked up the courage to ask him, “Are you okay?”
He looked at her for a second He didn’t really know how he was. He didn’t know how Jen was, and he didn’t know why mom and dad seemed to be pulling away from each other. He didn’t really think about any of this, just felt things, or more like he didn’t really feel things. He was exhausted and numb. “No,” he answered her.
After a moment, she asked, “Is there anything I can do?”
“No,” he answered. “I don’t know. Thanks for being here. Did my dad contact you?”
“Yeah,” she replied. “He posted a message on your facebook. I’ve been sending you messages but I guess you haven’t been looking at them.”
“Sorry,” was all he could get out. He turned back around to face the wall, saying again, “Sorry.”
“What are you sorry for?” Stacey asked, moving over to the bed. Perching on the side, she started rubbing his back.
“I’m just sorry,” he said. He felt Stacey’s hand without really feeling it, listened to the rain and thought about the dark and cold. “What’s the temperature right now?”
“I don’t know. I think it’s only supposed to be in the thirties or something all day.”
“Yeah, all day.”
“Yeah,” she said, still rubbing his back. She was trying to be supportive but she didn’t know what to do. She’d never been through anything like this and she didn’t know anybody else who had either. Although she was glad that was true, at the same time she couldn’t help wishing just a little bit that something like this had happened so she would be ready and know what to do. She said the only thing she could think of next, “It’s unseasonably cold this year.”
“Yeah, so much for global warming.” Barry said it as if he were somewhere far away. He turned over and sat up in bed, leaning his back against the wall, his head rubbing the Pink Floyd poster. “You know, on nights like this, she always wants to wear light clothing to bed. Always the warm pajamas on hot nights, but always the long tee shirt or sleeveless nightgown on nights like this. When it’s cold.” Then he stopped talking, just sitting and staring out the window.
Stacey tried to look into his eyes, but she couldn’t see them very well in the dark room with the computer glow. She took his hand, and he let her. Finally she mustered up to say, “Pretty crazy.”
“Yeah,” Barry said. A trickle had been opened, Stacey could sense as he talked. “Yeah, pretty crazy. She always kicks her covers off too, no matter what the temperature is. Summer, winter, rain and heat and snow, she kicks off the covers. Sometimes Dad puts them back on her and sometimes Mom makes him put them back on her.” He trailed off again. It was too dark to actually see the rain.
Stacey wanted to get him back on track again. “Tell me about it,” she said.
“Every night, when it wasn’t real hot, I would go in and cover her up. She’d be curled up in a ball, but when the covers got pulled over her she would stretch out. She would sometimes get out of bed and come get me.”
“Why?” Stacey could see that Barry’s eyes were getting moist. She couldn’t actually see though, she just felt it. She put her hand on his arm.
His face twisted a bit, and he shook it from side to side slowly. To Stacey it looked as if he felt trapped and wanted to escape, almost like the kidnapper had Barry in his hands and Barry wanted to break free. He started sobbing quietly, trying to fight it back, swallowing hard over and over again. When he spoke it was with breaking voice and Stacey could feel the emotion breaking within him, like a tidal wave slamming against some great wall, coming back again and again and again until it couldn’t be contained any more. His eyes shut to hold back the tears, his mouth twisted into a grimace of grief, he said, “She would come get me because she wanted me to cover her up, to tuck her in. She felt safe with me and thought I would take care of her.” He couldn’t hold it any more and sobbed out, “But I didn’t. When she needed me the most I didn’t even know she was in danger. How can she forgive me? Why couldn’t I take care of her?” He wailed out and Stacey took his head and put it on her lap. He held on to her with all his might, so strongly he hurt her but she didn’t say anything. She just stroked his hair while he cried out his anguish into her lap.
After a while he sat up and turned on a light. “I need to find some Kleenex,” he said.
Looking around, Stacey saw a box sitting on his desk and got it for him. He wiped his eyes and blew his nose several times. He wouldn’t look at her, just staring down at the shoes he hadn’t taken off before getting in bed.
Stacey was a year younger than Barry but they were about equal in maturity. She did well in school, getting mostly A’s. Her only problem class was Spanish, but that was because she didn’t see the need to learn it. Sure, there were Mexicans in Fishers, her family even had a favorite Mexican restaurant, but they all spoke English. She had met Barry in their Advanced English Lit class, where he was the only one who had analyzed the religious and social context of the Lord of the Rings books. She preferred Jane Austen, and had been pleasantly surprised that he knew some of her stuff, and not just from movies. Her father didn’t like the idea of his fifteen year old daughter dating anyone, although he seemed to like Barry well enough. Her mother was more ambivalent about the whole thing, saying she understood and could remember what it was like to be a girl. She’d always been closer to her mom.
She took Barry’s face in her hands and made him look at her. “It’s not your fault, Barry. No one blames you.”
“I blame me,” Barry retorted. Pulling his face away from her hands, he said, “I blame me. I should have been there for her. I should have stopped that guy from taking her. I should have caught up with the van. I should have done something!”
“Have you prayed?”
Barry turned his head to look at Stacey. “Prayed?”
“Yeah, have you prayed that God will protect her and help everyone to find her quick and bring her back home?”
Barry’s brow furrowed and his eyes blinked back some tears. “No, I haven’t done that .”
Stacey took his hands in hers and said, “Do you want to?”
Barry thought about it for a moment, then nodded. Together they knelt down by the side of the bed and prayed. He had trouble finding the words, and finally just got out, “God, please keep Jen safe and bring her back home.”
Stacey continued, “Yes, God, please help the police to find Jen and please keep her safe and don’t let anyone hurt her. Please let her know that everyone loves her and we’re all working hard for her. In Jesus’ name we pray.” They both said “Amen.”
They stood up and hugged fiercely, holding on to each other for life. Then Barry said, “I probably better get downstairs and see if anything’s happened.”
Locking her big brown eyes into his, Stacey smiled and said, “Yeah, we probably better.”
“Thanks. I don’t think I could do this without you.”
Barry opened the door and let Stacey go first. As they were at the top of the stairs, they heard a cell phone ring. And someone started cursing up a storm, one more brutal than the heavy rain outside the house.
copyright (C) 2012 christophe w neal all rights reserved
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